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Driving an Automatic car in snow is an incredibly misunderstood art. With the increased popularity of automatic and electric vehicles, the need for clear knowledge on driving automatics in the snow is now more desperately needed. In this latest post we run through the best ways to prepare your automatic car for the snow.



Automatic Gears

Not all automatics are made the same. Most modern automatics will come with a dedicated snow mode. This keeps gear ratios high to avoid spinning your wheels. This makes driving in the snow far easier

Many automatics also come with a manual mode which gives you some control over your gears like in a manual.

BMW Automatic Gearbox for Driving in the Snow

As an example, the semi-automatic mode on this BMW is found on the gear selector to the left of the drive gear (labeled as M/S). You can then change your gears using the +/- setting or the flappy paddles found on the back of the steering wheel.


So your on the road.

First, start slowly. This ensures that you will have as much reaction time as possible if you start to slide. Lightly test your braking and steering to ensure you have sufficient traction and control.

Driving Electric cars in the snow is slightly different as they don’t even have gears! They also have far more torque than their petrol powered counterparts.

If you find your wheels are spinning, go slower and put your car into an eco setting. This should reduce the torque generated by your motor and make the car easier to control.


Consider your Journey First

Information from the Department of Transport showed that;

“In 2016, 62% of trips were made by car, either as a driver or passenger. … Over this period, average distance travelled by car per person has also fallen; this is explained largely by the fall in trips, with average trip length by car remaining fairly stable. “

We ourselves have seen the increase in people and businesses wanting car leasing with large mileage allowances. All of this shows that british motorists are making increasingly small and insignificant car journeys.

With this in mind, only drive if the journey is truly necessary.


Driving Style

automatic cars in snow

Driving style is incredibly important in the snow. Although there are many different schools of thought between high and low gear driving, some things are universally accepted as good practice.

Be observant. There are many hard-to-see dangers driving in the snow. These include black ice and non-gritted areas.

You should also leave more room than normal between yourself and any car in front of you.

Avoid any swerving and/or sudden breaking. This reduces the chance of skidding or spinning.

Instead, break gently by applying steady yet firm pressure on your break pedal. Ease up on your breaks if you begin to skid.

When going around a corner;

  1. Slow down before the turn
  2. Release the breaks and enter the corner
  3. Accelerate once the turn is completed


Winter Car Checks

In both an automatic or a manual car, certain checks are needed to prepare yourself for driving a car in the snow.


First, Make sure that your wiper blades are fully functional.

Streaky wiper blades can obscure your view, especially in the snow where visible distances are low at the best of times. Improper wiper blades can make you a danger to not only yourself but to other road users.

We recommend going to your local Halfords who can use your registration to find the correct windscreen wipers for your car and even fit them on site!


Secondly, check both your levels of antifreeze and windscreen washer fluid.

Although antifreeze is a everyday necessity for the continued running of your car, you should check for correct levels to ensure you don’t break down in heavy snow.

Your windscreen washer fluid needs to be full to account for falling snow. We recommend using a higher concentration windscreen washer fluid to water to ensure fast melting of any snow. Check on the back of your bottle for the best concentrations.

Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, Richard Leonard, said: “Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel if they really need to travel.”



Snow Tires for Automatic Cars

Snow and Ice always runs the risk of damaging your tires or taking advantage of work or improper tires. Before setting off, check your tire tread and inflation.


Ideally you should fit snow tires or at least all-weather tires to your vehicle. Here are some of their benefits…

Snow-tires – Designed to retain flex and grip at low temperatures. Because of their increased surface area they deliver increased traction.

All weather tires – Harder than snow tires and they include less siking cuts that assist in snow driving performance. However they tend to deliver better fuel economy.

Note: Rear Wheel Drives may want to choose snow tires. As their rear wheels have little weight above them, they can’t plant their power in poor conditions.

At the very least, carrying a set of tire chains for worst case scenarios is advised.


Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, Richard Leonard, said: “If you need to travel in the morning, make sure you keep your distance and reduce your speed because, even in conditions that seem normal and when the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh salt has not been worked into the carriageway.”


Author: Alex Charnock


How to drive an automatic car in the snow


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